Posts Tagged With: my 500 words

Habits: An Unfortunate Truth

The moment I wrote that 501st word on the final day of my first-ever writing challenge, a wave of excitement flushed through me. By the time I had finished my post and published it, I was on cloud nine.

Had I really done it? Was it really possible that I had written 15,000+ words over the past month? I didn’t know how I’d done it, but I was amazed. As the numbers sunk in, I thought Wow. This is something I can really be proud of. 

Just a month earlier, I had repeatedly sat in my apartment, wondering why I had wasted so much time not writing. I had done everything but write. I had been living in Korea (for the second time) for over nine months at that point, and had barely written anything at all in that time – and not for lack of subject matter. There were a ton of things I could have written about – my travels, day trips around Korea, my job teaching English, or what my daily life in Busan is like as an expat, to name a few.

But I didn’t. I just let day after day slip away, without a trace. No words or stories to remember them by. No evidence that they even occurred. There I was, in a great position to write some original and unique content, wasting this incredible opportunity I had. The voice in the back of my head (everyone has one, right!?) certainly didn’t approve. As each day passed, I could hear it growing more and more agitated with my general lack of motivation and productivity. You’re not always going to be living abroad, with unlimited experiences to write about, it would tell me. Stop wasting this adventure and get cracking!

Thankfully, my routine of avoiding that voice eventually stopped – with the start of the writing challenge.

But somehow, a week has already passed since I successfully completed it. So now, it’s truth time.

Have I written since then?

The short/truthful answer: hardly.

The answer I’m tempted to give: hardly, but…it’s because ___________ (insert every excuse I can think of here).

Sure, being busy or tired or lazy are all reasons why I couldn’t write every day this week, but are they good ones?

No.

So far, I’ve only written two days this week, and I can tell you that after writing for 31 days straight, it feels weird. It feels like I’m shirking a responsibility; like I’m getting away with something I shouldn’t be.

This week hasn’t been completely useless, though – it’s taught me a little about habits. In order for something to truly become a habit, there has to be doing involved. There needs to be some sort of action. Simply thinking about doing something doesn’t cut it. Since finishing the writing challenge, I still think about writing every day. When I wake up every morning, the intention to write is always there, but the follow-through, sometimes, is not. And that’s the most important part.

People say all it takes to build a habit is to do something repeatedly for a certain number of days. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? Maybe even easy. But I think there’s a lot more to it than that. Habits are not just going to sustain themselves, because you dedicated X number of days to them initially. They’re not going to reward you for your good behaviour – unless you put the work in to deserve the reward.

Just because I built up a writing habit during the last month doesn’t mean that the work is going to do itself from now on.

Without effort and dedication, habits can disappear just as quickly as they appeared in the first place.

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I did it!

Thirty-one days ago, I started a writing challenge called “My 500 Words.”

Since then, I’ve been writing at least 500 words every single day. While every day has been significant in its own way, today, January 10, is the most special.

Why? Because it’s day 31 of my 31-day challenge. That means: I DID IT! Day 31 is finally here – the finish line!

The fact that I accomplished this may not seem like a lot on the grand scheme of things, but to me, it means so much – and here’s why.

For the past few years, I’ve been playing with the idea of being a writer; mulling it over in my mind, entertaining it, but never knowing for sure if I could really do it. Sure, it sounded nice – being able to work at home if I wanted to, or from anywhere else in the world, for that matter.

In recent years, my interest in and desire to travel has increased significantly, and I began to wonder if maybe there was a way to fit writing into some sort of travel lifestyle. The idea that if (or, more likely, when) my wanderlust got too strong, I could take my work on the road with me, became more and more appealing. A career in writing might just give me the freedom that I’ve always craved; to be able to pack up and go with relative ease, at any time.

Go where? Who knows! Everywhere. The answer is everywhere.

So, there I was, with all these ideas swimming around in my head; dreams for the future. That’s all they really were – dreams – because I didn’t have the confidence to see if I could make them come true. I didn’t have the guts to see if I could really write. I just thought about writing, and imagined how it would feel to be a successful writer someday. Maybe one day, I’d write a column for The New York Times. Maybe I’d be sent off to explore the globe on assignment for National Geographic Traveler. Or maybe, I’d build a successful travel blog with a massive audience. People all around the world would be following me religiously, awaiting my every move with baited breath. Where is she off to next? they’d wonder. What adventures will she get up to this time? 

Okay, I’ll admit it. Maybe that last one is a little extreme – but you get the idea! My dreams had no limits.

I realized something when I stumbled upon Jeff Goins‘ blog, though. Miraculously, I discovered that the key to being a writer of any sort…was to start writing! 

If I never got any words down on a page, I could be absolutely certain that I’d never get the chance to write for any of those esteemed publications I’d been dreaming about. In fact, I’d never even be able to call myself a writer at all, regardless of whether I wrote for a living or just for pleasure, with no one ever seeing it.

That’s what this writing challenge has done for me. It’s given me the motivation I needed to start doing the real work – to start writing. Each day, I wake up knowing that at some point during the day, I need to write. And knowing that I will.

Now that I’ve gotten into this habit, it’s not so much a question of whether I’ll write today, but a question of what I’ll write about. During the past month, I’ve written about all kinds of things – some of which I’ve posted to my blog, and some I’ve written just for myself. I’ve written about my travels, my struggles, my thoughts, my questions, and my feelings. I’ve written about books I’ve read, holidays I’ve endured away from home, and people I’ve met.

While not all of my writing this month has been earth-shattering, I’m still proud of it. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m even proud of what I wrote on the days when I just didn’t feel like writing, because those days were the hardest, and yet I still managed to get something down.

This journey hasn’t been easy, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in awhile, and it’s something I know I’ll be grateful I accomplished 10 years down the road.

Now, it’s time for me to celebrate.

Happy writing, everyone!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Plunge

I’m now only about a month and a half into my 25th year of life on this incredible planet, but already, a lot has happened in that time.

Even before my birthday, in the months leading up to this milestone in my life, some important events were taking place. I should note, though, that most of these “important events” happened in my apartment in Korea, with myself as the only guest. Seems far from Earth-shattering, doesn’t it? However, this series of little steps really did shatter my understanding of the world at that time.

So, what exactly did I do, you ask?

First, I read some books that literally changed my life and helped me climb out of the unhappy hole I’d been stuck in for the last several months (more to come on this in another post).

After I’d cleared my head of most of the junk swimming around up there, I found I had freed up a lot more time that I could use to focus on myself. I thought more seriously about what I might actually want to do with my life. The two things I came up with (besides sleeping way too much, of course!) were travel and writing. Deep down, I knew both of these passions had already existed in me for quite some time – I just hadn’t really believed I could do something with them.

I began reading blogs and articles I found online about these two passions, and the more I read, the more interested I became in actually doing something about them. That’s when I first discovered Jeff Goins‘ blog, and my mind seemed to switch gears; from then on it was full speed ahead!

I started thinking about my own blog again – that poor, lonely one I had abandoned over a year ago and had never touched since I’d been back in Korea. Maybe it was time to give it a go again! I also joined social media networks that I had been avoiding for as long as possible, thinking (more like pretending) they weren’t really all that important anyway. A writer just writes, right?

WRONG!

Each time I visited the page of an online travel magazine where freelancers can submit their work, I was faced with the glaringly empty boxes of all the social media networks I was not part of. The list went on and on: Instagram, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn… And worst of all, these boxes were mandatory! I had my work cut out for me. Joining and figuring out how to work all these new platforms was going to take some time.

The next thing I did was probably the biggest step yet, and that was joining the My 500 Words writing challenge. Now one week into this challenge, I can already see how it’s beginning to transform my views on being a writer. I still have three weeks to go, and I’m excited to see what I’ll be able to accomplish by the time I reach the finish line.

It’s amazing what happens when you start your year off right – taking the plunge into quarter-century life surrounded by family, in your cozy little Korean apartment, with a can of Cass beer in hand!

Cheers!

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Sleep vs. Adventure

Day five of my writing adventure has begun. Still not as early in the day as I would have liked, but I’ll continue to work on that. Getting up early has always been a struggle for me. I’m one of those people who likes sleeping a little too much – definitely way more than is normal, and probably more than is even healthy! Most people who know me well know that if given the chance, I could easily and happily sleep most of the day away, every single day (especially during the winter!) Sometimes, I like to joke that I’m a professional sleeper. That’s how bad it really is!

However, this passion for sleep that I’ve been blessed (cursed?) with tends to interfere with my other interests at times, particularly those of travel and writing. I’m sure you can see how my wanderlust might bump heads with my lust to hibernate from time to time!

As much as I enjoy sleep, I can usually be coaxed out from beneath my warm, cozy blankets by the promise of an adventure (or coffee, of course). The promise of my computer screen waiting for me to finish writing my 500 words for the day has not yet become quite as enticing – but here’s to hoping it will by the end of this challenge!

My first four days of this commitment have already been eye-opening for me. Each day, I’ve produced something that I’m happy with; maybe even proud of! Each day, I sat down, I started writing, and I didn’t get up until I had written at least 500 words on the screen in front of me.

Some days, I sat down with an idea or topic in mind. Other days, I just started writing, and amazingly, a topic seemed to come to me as the words started to fill up the page. Sometimes, 300 words in, I discovered I actually did have something in mind to write about that day, I just wasn’t aware of it at the time I began typing!

I’m realizing more and more that it doesn’t matter so much what I write about, as long as I write. It’s amazing how easy it is to develop a new habit. All you really have to do is decide to do it. Make a commitment, and then stick to it, no matter what. I’m only five days into this month-long commitment, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll have no trouble completing it successfully because of one simple reason; I finally made the decision to start.

During the last few years, I’ve spent too much time putting writing off for another day, thinking it was too hard or that I had nothing worthwhile to write about. I kept telling myself that I’d start tomorrow, and then when tomorrow rolled around, I’d put it off yet again. At the same time, I was telling myself that I should really try to develop a daily writing habit if I ever wanted to be serious about writing. I would often read articles about how easy writing becomes when you make the commitment to do it every day and think “How nice! Maybe that will happen to me someday.”

In reality, all I really needed to do was start.

Now that I’ve tackled that monster, I want to work towards creating another habit: getting up early!

For a professional sleeper, I think this habit will prove to be a little more difficult to develop. Any ideas?

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The challenge begins!

So, here I am on the first day of this new adventure. For the next 31 days straight, I’ll be writing at least 500 words every single day. About what, you ask? Who knows! It’ll be a surprise for you and me!

I didn’t get up early this morning like I had planned – but, I got up. Here I am, typing away behind my computer screen. That’s the most important part. That’s what counts.

I’ve already accomplished the hardest part of this challenge – actually starting.

So now that I’ve done that, what will I write about?

Well, I want to begin by talking about the hardest part – the part where you actually start writing something. It seems silly when you think about it. How can simply writing be the hardest part of a writing challenge? It doesn’t make much sense.

But, it really is true. This is something I’ve struggled with for months. Maybe even for the last few years. Believe me – if I had an answer for you, I’d tell you. There’s something about writing, especially for the web, that’s intimidating. For a writer, it can be hard to share your writing with others. What you write can be very personal at times, and you’re afraid that if you put your thoughts, ideas, or feelings out there for the world to read, somebody might take it as an opportunity to pounce on you. Somebody might disagree with you. Someone might tell you you’re wrong. Someone else may hate what you write.

These are all major concerns for someone who cares a lot about what other people think of them. In fact, it’s a recipe for an ego-squashing disaster.

You want to post an emotional story about that amazing thing that happened today, but in the few moments that your mouse hovers above the “Publish” button, an anxious string of thoughts arises. What will people think if I post this? Will they think I’m lame? Will they think it’s stupid? Will they even read it? What if NO ONE reads it!? Then I will look even more lame!!

If I’m being honest with myself, these kinds of thoughts are probably the worst enemy I’ve met along my writing journey so far, not the angry mobs who hate my writing that I imagined in my head.

For many people who want to be writers (myself included at times), the fear of how others will perceive them is what holds them back the most.

This is something I’ve been working on. It’s not easy to put yourself out there. It takes courage to share a big part of yourself with someone else, let alone offering it up to the world! But, that’s what writers do. They write – and regardless of whether they write fiction, fantasy, or an autobiography – those words come from their minds. They reveal a big part of who they are.

It’s time for me to fully embrace what it means to be a writer, and to give myself the opportunity to find my voice. It’s time to stop worrying about what other people will think, and just let myself be free to write, whatever and whenever I want.

I’m finally ready to make a change.

That’s why I signed up for this challenge. How can I call myself a writer if I don’t write?

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Are you ready to make the leap, too? Join Jeff Goins‘ 31-day writing challenge, my 500 words!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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